Saturday 17 March 2018

Stokes fans flames in career-best haul

England's Ben Stokes
England's Ben Stokes newsdesk

Ben Stokes returned with a vengeance to his best bowling form as his career-best six-wicket Test haul overshadowed even James Anderson against West Indies at Lord's.

A capacity crowd at HQ gathered to will Anderson on to a piece of history as the first Englishman to reach 500 Test wickets - and after he took the first two in West Indies' 123 all out, it seemed a certainty he would achieve the unique milestone on day one of this deciding third Test in the Investec series.

Instead, though, it was Stokes who cashed in on his and bowling coach Ottis Gibson's hard work to become the sixth England cricketer to put himself on the famous honours board in both disciplines - leaving Anderson stranded, until the second innings at least, on 499.

Stokes' six for 22, in a wonderful two-hour spell of fast swing bowling from the nursery end, came in 14.3 overs unbroken either side of tea as the Windies lost their last seven for 45 runs.

England then closed on a vulnerable 46 for four themselves, with Stokes unbeaten on 13, in conditions which ensured throughout that ball mastered bat under heavy cloud cover. But for Stokes, who had mustered only 10 wickets in this summer's previous six Tests, it was a day to remember.

Asked if this was perhaps the best he has ever bowled in Test cricket, he said: "Yes, I think so. It was obviously swinging when I got the ball in my hands - and when it does swing like that, it's a good opportunity just to run up and know it's going to do something."

A modest Stokes said afterwards that he felt he owed England some wickets this season: "I hope it's a starting point and I can start producing some better performances with the ball."

England v West Indies,

Live, Sky Sports Cricket, 10.30

Irish Independent

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